Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Mueller To Testify In Public July 17th: Will He Be A Hearings Hero Or.....A Withering Wimp?

"Mueller doesn’t get to be the ultimate arbiter of what is and isn’t political. And he’s not a flower that will wilt with too much exposure."- Blogger Cody Fenwick, 'Robert Mueller Is Acting Like A Precious Flower',, May 20

"I think Robert Mueller is a little bit too concerned that his work could be interpreted politically.  You cannot take quite so much of the politics out of politics. ..While I certainly understand the idea that when you get put in front of a camera - given congress the way that it is - a lot of people are going to be grandstanding to create that one viral moment. 

Nevertheless the idea you don't do it because it could be politicized to the American people, I mean you're working for the American people.  So that doesn't quite add up to me".  Ezra Klein on 'Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell', May 23rd

Well, at least a second major milestone was passed yesterday evening when it was announced on MSNBC that former Special Prosecutor  Robert Mueller will finally testify in public - scheduled now for July 17th.    There will be two sequential hearings, one in front of the House Judiciary Committee, the other in front of the House Intelligence Committee.  Make no mistake that Mueller's  agreement was not "friendly" but required a House subpoena for him to comply.  Something I strongly endorsed way back on May 24, when I wrote:

"If Mueller isn't courageous enough to don the patriot mantle, and disdains descending into the fray, then Jerrold Nadler has no choice but to issue a subpoena for him to testify publicly. No more "Mr. Nice Guy"!

Evidently Messrs. Nadler and Schiff paid some attention.  But no one should feel any sense of total satisfaction or that Mueller will be a willing testifier.  No, he will likely drive lawmakers nuts either reading selected portions that partly answer their questions, or responding in obscure (as opposed to direct) language that will need to be further parsed.  Partly this will be to protect himself from what is likely going to be a Repuke counter attack led by No. 1  House GOP asshole Jim Jordan.  So Mueller will plausibly figure that being taciturn and indirect with his responses will spare him from a 3-ring circus spectacle.  The latter is precisely what the traitor-enabling Republicans embrace and why their objective will be to make a mockery of the hearings.  This the Dems cannot allow, even if they have to call the sergeant-at -arms to lock a few of the Reeps up if they transgress on the contempt side.

At the very least, Mueller needs to be pressed in respect of his response to William Barr's disingenuous presentation of the report 3 months ago.  Mueller wrote in the wake of Barr's egregiously slanted release: "There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel to assure public confidence in the outcome of the investigations."

So we need to hear Mueller come out and in no uncertain terms condemn, or at least rigorously criticize,  Barr's misleading interpretation.  His response needs to be sufficiently robust that Barr's spin can no longer be used to stoke the narrative that there is no there, there.  And  must skewer the widespread canard that Trump is innocent of all the charges and besides, "it's all a witch hunt."

Let's acknowledge here that yes, Mueller is averse to public testimony because: 1) he doesn't want too many millions of Americans directly seeing and hearing what he said or concluded - because of the political heat he might take, and 2) he doesn't want to lock horns with his old pal and original "mentor" Barr.  But look, that cow escaped after the barn door was left ajar - not long after Barr issued his spurious summary of Mueller's report - when Mueller left that 'door' open to mischief.  In other words, Mueller himself left the door open to further inquiry on his findings so he can't play the victim or cry about the consequences now.

Besides, as former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld pointedly noted (on MSNBCs 'Last  Word'' May 23):
"I suspect he wants to avoid a circus. But he's testified many times before in high pressure situations with a lot of members from both parties from time to time being angry at the performance of the FBI. And he always stood there and took it. And he can do that again, believe me, he's a tough guy. I've worked shoulder to shoulder with him and he can more than hold his own."

Terrific that Mueller is - or was - a "tough guy"  and "could hold his own" in open hearings, but we need him to do that now in defense of the country. Especially now in an environment in which Trump has implemented a total blockade of all relevant witnesses, aides for any House hearings.   This is the time to be a hero, not a wallflower too delicate to take political blowback or heat, see e.g.

As for the foolish trope that Mueller didn't come to a firm conclusion in his report out of fairness, NY Times' Maureen Dowd had the best retort to that:

At many of the most consequential moments in American history, I have watched officials bend over backward to be equitable, only to end up faltering and doing enormous damage to the Republic.

It is possible to be “fair” in a way that is not at all fair. It’s simply bad judgment, ceding the ground to malevolent actors who use any means to achieve their ends, including flattening and sliming the proponents of “fairness.”

Ms. Dowd at the time was referencing Mueller's overwhelming reluctance to render definitive positions on Trump in his report. Indeed one NY Book Review take on it was that Mueller sought to be scrupulously  "fair".  Well, he was indeed that, to the point of folly and enabling the bad guys to get away with their evil deeds - and now put the good guys in their sights.  This is what Mueller needs to address now, as he hopefully rejects the pose of a political wallflower.  Still,  Rep. Adam B. Schiff is rightfully trying to tamp down expectations.  Though as a report in today's Denver Post  (p. 11A) put it:

"Even Mueller's repeating aspects of his report in a public setting could be politically damaging for Trump."

In any case, I am confident that any response vocalized by Mueller will be better than no response, such as the Trump puppet Hope Hicks delivered. The only thing that can derail what the NY Times has referred to as the "potential to reshape the political landscape"  is a Trump  distraction.  In Janice's words - and she's seldom cynical like me:  "Look for a U.S. cruise missile attack on Iran the night before July 17."

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